Made for California

Giant succulents blaze with bloom in Patrick Anderson's Fallbrook garden

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Not for the faint of heart

When you buy one, just make sure you know how big it's going to get, he advises. Palm-size gray-blue rosettes of Aloe brevifolia make good ground covers. Agave parryi huachucensis (gray with black edges) looks like an oversize artichoke and grows to basketball size. Aloe arborescens (famous for rimming Laguna Beach's cliffs) reaches the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Aloe marlothii is not for the faint of heart: Its brutish leaves are spiked like a giant cheese grater. Yet its blooms, which float horizontally above the plant, are worth the effort; they're several feet long and clustered with scorching orange florets. Less intimidating is A. cameronii, which forms a brick red mound of foliage that resembles overlapping starfish. "The more sun, the redder it gets," says Anderson.

And what about his British guest? When Lloyd returned home, he wrote Anderson: "I would love to have a garden of cactus and succulents, but as I can't, there's no use being envious. Whenever I come to Southern California, I can just enjoy yours."

Beautiful brutes

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